By Jon Schuppe and Heather Grossmann
MUNICIPAL DISTRICT — Former City Councilman Miguel Martinez was sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday for stealing over $100,000 in public funds.
Martinez, 39, who served Washington Heights and part of the Bronx, pleaded guilty in July to three felony counts, including stealing more than $100,000 from the city in schemes that ran from October 2002 to spring 2008.
The money was supposedly going to children's art programs and low-income housing in his district. Instead, it went into bank accounts he controlled.
Much of the money came from a slush fund used by council members to pay for pet projects in their districts. Several of the non-profit organizations earmarked for money from that fund turned out to be non-existent, and the fund remains the target of joint probe by the Department of Investigation and the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Two council aides have also been ensnared in the investigation.
"Election to the City Council gave Miguel Martinez the right to
represent the hard-working people of Northern Manhattan, not to
steal from them," said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
"Martinez sold out the New Yorkers he took an oath to protect, and his price tag was $106, 000. He used the City's coffers as his personal ATM."
In addition to serving jail time, Martinez must also pay back the stolen money.
The former councilman, who was running for reelection this year, resigned on July 14 in a one-sentence letter to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
Political newcomer Ydanis Rodriguez ran for Martinez's City Council District 10 seat and won.